We Are the Best! Screen 22 articles

We Are the Best!

2013

We Are the Best! Poster
  • It’s a work of self-congratulatory and sentimental escapism for the art-house audience, a sort of “No Sex Yet and a Carefree City” view of growing up. It feeds fantasies of a virtually infinite tolerance, an absence of substantial conflict, a nostalgic take on Scandinavian mellowness that seems to have less to do with the way things actually were than with a Disneyland view of the past.

  • Moodyson has given us some treasures both sweetish (Show Me Love, Together) and severely sour (Lilya 4 Ever). His movies have been keen and curious about the travails of youth. He took this one from a graphic novel by his wife, Coco, and the entire thing feels like an indulgence — but perhaps a necessary one.

  • The absence of anything to rebel against makes this a strange punk-rock movie - authority figures are friendly, the rules generally fair, conflict kept to a minimum, and whenever it edges close to something questionable (e.g. Hedvig's mom trying to blackmail the girls into going to church) it tends to fizzle out... but maybe that's the point, that punk comes from the pain you feel inside, however comfortable your objective circumstances.

  • [It resembles] a Swedish after-school special tailored for American art houses... Moodyson gets spirited, engaging performances from his three young leads, and his directing style, which includes lots of handheld camera and zooming into close-ups of the leads, lends an air of both intimacy and improvisation. It’s very capable and audience-pleasing work, which of course means that nothing about it is very punk-rock.

  • I’m sympathetic to many aspects of We Are the Best!—the ensemble cast is a small miracle—but even with the best of intentions, it utlimately participates in the ongoing, backward-looking fetishization of yesterday’s tropes of DIY authenticity. At absolute worst, this means re-enactments of the teenaged basement-show experience for LARPing twentysomethings who lacked the intrepidity to experience it the first time around...

  • The film becomes a funny and amiable chronicle of female friendship, capturing the wide range of emotions from sky-highs to world-ending lows, from trust to betrayal and the inevitable making-up. First love comes in and adds to their experiences, helping them to gradually assert their identities. And what better soundtrack along the way than thee one and only song they play throughout: “Hate the Sport! Hate the Sport!”

  • To the film’s credit, [the girls] never accrue enough polish to sand off their scrappy edges, which are what Moodysson—in his most brisk, generous film in years—loves most about them. By the end, it’s easy to see the band’s jubilant thrashing as a stand-in for the Swedish director’s own approach to cinema, a rough-and-tumble jam session revealing every character via a whirl of expressive energy. May he never let this spiky-tomboy side fade.

  • We Are the Best... is almost so watchable as to elude critical insight, but is nevertheless knowing, in addition to ebullient...

  • In Best!, he captures something about teenagers that so many of us lose when we grow into adults: the capacity to feel strongly, to experience intensities both positive and negative, to be swept up by torrents of both enthusiasm and outrage. It reminds us that the passage from adolescence into sober, ‘mature’ adulthood is already a kind of death.

  • Moodysson isn’t afraid to depict their immaturity—the girls are just as capable of the intolerance and conformism that they condemn their peers and parents for—but does so with sensitivity and without judgment... If friendship is the film’s linchpin, We Are The Best! also shows music as a uniquely transporting force that promotes personal freedom.

  • Era-specific but never nostalgic, tender but never sentimental, We Are the Best!, like all good films about teenage girls, finely illuminates the emotional extremes of this tumultuous development stage: how bravado and self-importance can quickly yield to existential panic and self-loathing. And in its heroines’ refusal to accept the diminishing label “girl band,” We Are the Best! reveals a political view more forceful and convincing than that found in Moodysson’s earlier misguided screeds.

  • This touching and tender tribute to an all–too–transitory time in life marks a lighter turn from Moodysson after the dramatic bleakness he’s been channelling since 2002... We Are the Best! is adapted from a graphic novel written by his wife, Coco, who seems instrumental to this about-turn. “He had been writing gloomy books about his dead dad,” said she of Lukas prior to this film. Given Moodysson’s attachment to darkness, this small and surprising delight seems even brighter.

  • We Are the Best! is a low-key pleasure. It is perhaps not a project that tests Moodysson as a director but it resoundingly shows his brilliance at directing young performers; he’d be a hell of a lot better at running a youth club than Kenneth and Roger.

  • We Are the Best! allows its trio of girls to express themselves through gender, certainly, but not undermine their desire to be heard as artists first... Although ultimately slight, We Are the Best! offers a convincing reminder for the necessity of unsquelched individual-as-communal expression.

  • The film is a triumph of casting and production design, with all three of the leads (especially Grosin, as the loudest and most pugnacious of the trio) creating sharply defined characters whose actions seem determined by their antiseptic environment, which they clumsily opt to reject. Viewing their exploits with affectionate good humor, Lukas Moodysson confirms here that sweet laced with sour works better for him as a recipe than vice versa.

  • For those of us who've been hoping that Lukas Moodysson would return to the tender touch of early movies like Show Me Love (1998) and Together (2000), the wait is over. It's impossible to think of another film that captures the DIY empowerment of punk rock, the bond of female friendships, and parodies the era's Oi!-scenester stances — one song's chorus is "Brezhnev Reagan/Fuck off!" — all in one blissful swoop.

  • The movie stays true to its graphic novel roots with quick editing and rapid firing conversations, all of which make for a pulpy, enjoyable ride. Yet at the same time, We are the Best! is grounded in a sense of realism that brings depth to all of its characters.

  • Sporting androgynous haircuts and (ostensibly) rejecting makeup, the girls are routinely insulted wherever they go. For the passive but intelligent Bobo, this harassment—and nascent romantic feelings—leads her to betray a friend. With fantastic performances by the three leads (only one of whom is a professional actor), the film fluidly alternates between the messiness and warmth of female friendship.

  • To say that [Moodysson's] euphorically funny latest represents a total rebound is almost too modest. We Are the Best! is a comedy set in 1982, about Stockholm girls on the cusp of adolescence who become snotty punks—very much in Moodysson’s wheelhouse. Yet the movie has the confidence of an artist who’s survived some wild years himself, experimenting with style and dispassion and realizing that sweet abandon is more than enough.

  • We Are the Best! addresses issues timelessly relevant to women with great power and directness—even if the film’s leads are in their preteens. In fact, the youth of these characters makes Moodysson’s points all the more poignant, demonstrating that issues of acceptance and adaptation may start at a very early age.

  • Moodysson's handheld camera is keenly attuned to the energy of the young leads. It fidgets with excitement when the girls add a new line or couplet to their song, and it jerks in time with their discomfort around others. The use of snap-zooms and whip-pans aligns the film with post-Office situation comedy, but Moodysson makes the most of that connection, regularly wringing humor from the film.

  • The early teenage years it details are ones that everyone has to awkwardly endure (then try to forget), and writer-director Lukas Moodysson (working from his wife Coco's graphic novel) pins down so many of that phase's little torments: the lack of self-awareness, the hesitant forging of an identity, the first stirrings of sexual development, the pervasive self-hatred.

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